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Macau's Casinos Get Off to a Strong Start in 2024

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Macau's casino industry experienced a surge in gross gaming revenue (GGR) in January, registering a 67% year-on-year increase. It reached MOP19.34 billion (US$2.4 billion), as disclosed by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau on Thursday.

Macau Gaming Continues to Climb

The improvement marked the second-highest monthly total since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In comparison to last December's figures, January's GGR reflected a 4.1% uptick, reaching MOP18.57 billion (US$2.3 billion).

JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd emphasized the robust performance of Macau's daily casino GGR in January, even amid weaker seasonality preceding the upcoming Chinese New Year holiday period, slated from February 10 to February 17. The brokerage firm highlighted that Macau's mass revenue surpassed 100% of pre-COVID-19 levels during the same month.

The accumulated GGR for the entirety of 2023 in Macau witnessed year-on-year growth of 333.8%, reaching MOP183.06 billion (US$22.71 billion). This surge was attributed to the continued relaxation of travel and COVID-19 restrictions, which were lifted just over a year ago.

With the city-wide casino GGR exceeding MOP180 billion (US$22.33 billion) for the full year 2023, the six local casino operators are now obligated to augment their committed non-gaming expenditures by 20%. This obligation stems from the 10-year concession contracts initiated with the city's government in January 2023.

Should Macau's annual GGR reach or surpass the MOP180 billion mark by 2027, the casino firms will have to inject more funds into the city. They are mandated to enhance their collective non-gaming and overseas-marketing spending pledges from MOP108.7 billion (US$13.49 billion) for the 2023 to 2032 period by at least 20%.

Boost Coming From Chinese New Year

As the Chinese New Year approaches, Macau is gearing up for a bustling period in the gaming and hospitality sector, traditionally witnessing a surge in activity during this festive time. The Macao Government Tourism Office (MGTO) had earlier projected an average of 120,000 visitors per day during the upcoming lunar calendar-based holiday, highlighting the anticipated influx.

Luxury hotels within casino resorts in Macau are already experiencing high demand, with several establishments reporting full occupancy for all nights of the festive period. A notable trend is observed in Cotai casino resorts, where 15 out of 31 local luxury hotel towers have almost entirely booked out for the holiday season.

Notably, the limited availability of rooms in Cotai comes with a premium price tag, with nightly rates starting at a minimum of MOP3,000 (US$372), excluding taxes and additional service charges. The rates are indicative of a peak pricing strategy, especially around the midpoint of the eight-day break.

Some standard room accommodations in Cotai's casino resorts are even surpassing MOP6,000 (US$744) per night during this festive period. This is a reflection of the robust demand and high-end preferences of visitors celebrating the Chinese New Year in the city.

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